Guest article from Katrien Verleye, recipient of the 2023 SERVSIG Emerging Service Scholar Award.

When I embarked my academic trajectory, healthcare was positioned as “a fertile field for service research”. [1] Today, I believe more than ever that many industries and societal fields may benefit from service research – if only because we are experts in understanding and managing interactions among actors of all kinds and the value that is co-created through these interactions. [2] In collaboration with early-career and established scholars from my own and other universities (see overview of my co-authors), I have been able to develop three streams of service research that I would love to expand further with the help of the service research community:

Research stream I:
Service innovation for a healthy world [3]

As we are living in a world where the population’s health is threatened by aging, mental health issues, new diseases, and unequal access to healthcare – to name but a few – there is an urgent need to rethink the way in which healthcare organizations and their staff, patients, and other stakeholders interact with one another so that the focus is on co-creating value for themselves and others. Moreover, a healthy world also implies that we go beyond studying value co-creation practices within the boundaries of healthcare ecosystems and also look into those that involve interactions with other ecosystems (e.g., educational system, economic system,…).

Suggested articles from the CSI-UGent team:
– De Pourcq, K., De Regge, M., Van den Heede, K., Van de Voorde, C., Gemmel, P., & Eeckloo, K. (2019). The role of governance in different types of interhospital collaborations: a systematic review. Health Policy, 123(5), 472-479.
– De Pourcq, K., Verleye, K., Larivière, B., Trybou, J., & Gemmel P. (2021). Implications of customer participation in outsourcing non-core services to third parties. Journal of Service Management, 23(3), 438-458.
– Verleye, K. & Holvoet, S. (2024). Organizational Practices to Co-Create Value with Family Members Engaged in Service Journeys of their Loved Ones. Journal of Service Theory & Practice, forthcoming.

Research stream II:
Service innovation for a digitized world

At an ever-faster pace, new service technologies are launched – all coming with challenges for co-creating value for all parties involved. Indeed, user experiences with service robots, AI-enabled services and other service technologies are not unequivocally positive, leading to disengagement. Moreover, the same goes for organizations that experiment with integrating these innovations into their daily practices. Research that helps to get different actors on board to co-create value in the world we’re living in when developing and launching new service technologies is necessary.  

Suggested articles from the CSI-UGent team:
– Henkens, B., Verleye, K., Larivière, B., & Perks, H. (2023). Pathways to service system smartness for firms. Journal of Service Research, 26(4), 521-541.
– Mehmood, K., Verleye, K., De Keyser, A., & Larivière, B. (2023). Piloting personalization research through data-rich environments: a literature review and future research agenda. Journal of Service Management, 34(3), 520-552.
– Li, C., & Larivière, B. (2023). The more extroverted the better? Unraveling the complex relationship between service robots’ personality and the service robot experience. Psychology & Marketing, 40(11), 2370-2386.

Research stream III:
Service innovation for a circular world

No sustainability without circularity – and let service research be one of the paths to making a transition to a circular economy. Indeed, servitization in the form of repair, maintenance, rental and sharing services may contribute to the circular transition – but only when carefully managed. All attempts to contribute to circular and sustainable services are welcomed, going from research on circular economy engagement over the design and governance of circular services to the measurement of its economic, ecological, and social impact!

Suggested articles from the CSI-UGent team:
– De Bruyne, M. J., & Verleye, K. (2023). Realizing the economic and circular potential of sharing business models by engaging consumers. Journal of Service Management, 34(3), 493-519.
– Khitous, F., Urbinati, A., & Verleye, K. (2022). Product-Service Systems: A customer engagement perspective in the fashion industry. Journal of Cleaner Production, 336, 130394. 
– Verleye, K., De Keyser, A., Raassens, N., Alblas, A. A., Lit, F. C., & Huijben, J. C. (2024). Pushing forward the transition to a circular economy by adopting an actor engagement lens. Journal of Service Research, 27(1), 69-88.

At CSI-UGent, we strongly believe in the importance of COLLABORATION, SUPPORT and IMPACT, so feel free to read this blogpost as an open invitation to team up for impactful research on service innovation for a healthy, digitized, and circular world!

And to the wonderful CSI-UGent colleagues and friends: THANK YOU SO MUCH for collaborating with me, supporting me and searching for ways to make an impact – no Emerging Service Scholar Award without you!

Katrien Verleve
Associate Professor of Service Innovation
Co-Director of the Center for Service Intelligence – Ghent University (CSI-UGent)

[1] Berry, L. L., & Bendapudi, N. (2007). Health care: a fertile field for service research. Journal of Service Research, 10(2), 111-122.
[2] Zeithaml, V. A., Verleye, K., Hatak, I., Koller, M., & Zauner, A. (2020). Three decades of customer value research: paradigmatic roots and future research avenues. Journal of Service Research, 23(4), 409-432. 
[3] At CSI-UGent, we define service innovation as developing and implementing new or significantly improved  ideas, processes, methods, or technologies for service delivery that allow customers and other stakeholders to co-create value.